Hello Again!

Dearest Readers,

It’s been too long! So sorry for the radio silence. I’ve spent the past two weeks trying to get my life back to some type of normalcy. Thank you so, so, so, so much for all the wonderful words of support and kindness! I wish I could better express how much it meant (and continues to mean) to me.

Last month’s surgery and post-op infection threw me for an emotional and physical loop that I’m still coming to terms with. Long story short, I had invasive surgery for my endometriosis (Lar had the same procedure done last year), spent 10 days trying to recover and started to feel worse, ended up going to the ER and staying at the hospital for three more days due to a post-op abscess, which was followed by 14 days of incredibly strong antibiotics that made me feel worse than ever.I finished the antibiotics two weeks ago and am almost fully recovered – woohoo!

All last month I didn’t shower much, definitely didn’t wear make-up, didn’t wear a bra, and lived in sweats and large t-shirts. So even though the photo below isn’t glamorous, it makes me happy because I took it on the first day (about 1.5 weeks ago) that I was energetic enough up to apply make-up, put on a fitted shirt (and bra), and wear jeans.  If that’s not something to celebrate – I don’t know what is!

Dr Who tshirt

I don’t want to sound overly dramatic – because I know so many people have been through so much worse than what I experienced – but suffering for 30 days straight completely changed me. Some changes are expected:

  • I’m even more grateful than ever for my friends and family. It sounds so trite, but I would have not have made it through without all of the love and support I received.
  • I’m much more empathetic towards anyone who is suffering or in pain. I’ve always been a sympathetic person (or at least I like to think so), but now I feel like I have a much better understanding of what people are going through when they’re unwell.
  • I admire people who are able to live with chronic pain – whether or not they complain about it nonstop or have a stiff upper lip and never mention it.
  • I’m terrified of hospitals now and have even less trust in doctors.
  • I don’t trust my body anymore. I’m worried that if I ever need surgery again, I’ll get an infection again – or something worse.

Some changes are totally unexpected:

  • In some ways I’m not as scared about things. Stuff that would stress me out before – like having to drop out of grad school for a semester or working on a presentation for my job – don’t seem as overwhelming because I’ve lived through a scarier and much more painful experience and everything else doesn’t seem like a big deal.
  • In other ways I’m more terrified about things – especially health-related things. I freak out if I start feeling slightly unwell. I’m scared that if I get even a minor cold I’ll somehow end up back at the hospital. I feel much more vulnerable.
  • I’m kind of mad that eating healthy and exercise didn’t prevent my infection. I know that sounds like the dumbest statement ever, but I really subconsciously thought that because I was a healthy person going into the surgery and I followed the doctors post-surgery orders (breathing exercises, frequent short walks, sticking to a strict medication schedule etc.) that I would have a pretty quick recovery. So wrong!
  • Even given the above statement, I’m more motivated than ever to take better care of myself – eat more veggies, exercise even more and drink less. So although I’m mad that good eating and exercise didn’t magically prevent me from getting sick, I still have faith in them.
  • After feeling so crappy for so long, I now want to surround myself with pretty things more than ever. That’s not to say I want to go on a shopping spree for new clothes and house goods (although I kind of do), but it’s really more about taking care of the things I already have and keeping/making them nice.

I know some of these feelings will dissipate with time – and maybe some therapy – but those are my feelings now. I know Lar can completely relate and maybe that’s one of the silver linings from this horrific experience. I feel closer to Lar now than ever before – even though we’re still thousands of miles apart – because we’ve had similar experiences (although her’s was much worse than mine).

Another silver lining: getting joy out of things that I used to take for granted. Like:

Skyping, Facetiming and What’s App-ing with Lar. We send each other goofy photos of ourselves randomly throughout the day:

funny faces

I’m also so grateful to eat food again – and not just crackers and toast and apple sauce! Although I won’t be eating tons of meals at Waffle House in the future (not the healthiest place to eat), it was so lovely to tuck into some raisin toast, cheesy eggs, and hash browns this past weekend. Also, having the energy to workout is a wonderful feeling – that’s my post workout face below.

workout eats

You know how I mentioned wanting to surround myself with pretty things? Well, one of the ways that has manifested is through my nails. As soon as I started feeling better, I put on a set of Jamberries that my friend had sent me, and it totally brightened my day. Seriously, nail decals do it for me – especially because it’s so much cheaper than a salon mani.

jamberries

I’ll start posting more frequently again. I just need to get my act together and start taking photos with something other than my iPhone 4S. It’s a dinosaur and the camera doesn’t want to focus on anything. Also, at some point soon I’ll start wearing some bloggable outfits, but right now I’m just excited that I can wear jeans again.

Love you all!

xoxo, Cath


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Cath update

Audrey knitting

Dear Readers

We are so sorry things have gone a little quiet here the last few weeks.

As you know from previous posts, Cath got an infection after her endometriosis surgery at the beginning of the month. She is still at home recuperating and sloughing through the last week of her heavy-duty antibiotics.

I’ve been skyping her daily. Sometimes she feels good enough to sit up and chat and other days she’s too nauseated to even look at the screen when we talk. It’s been a long, hard month for her, to say the least.

But she is on the mend. And every day I know she’s getting closer to that moment when she can feel healthy and whole again.

Once we’ve all gotten a bit more rest, we’ll both be back here blogging as much as we can. In the meantime know that your kind comments mean the world to both Cath and myself.

Much Love,

Lar (and Cath)

p.s. The pic above of Audrey Hepburn knitting is from Cath’s Pinterest account — she just pinned it! I can’t tell you how happy it makes me that she feels good enough to do that! It might sound silly if you haven’t been ill for a long while, but feeling good enough to do that is a HUGE baby step forward. Huzzah!


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Today I …

Dear Cath

I know how miserable you feel at this moment. Those antibiotics feel like they are not only killing all the bacteria in your body but you as well. I know how exhausted your body is from fighting first the surgery and then the infection and now the drugs. I know it feels never-ending and that even watching “Poirot” for seven hours straight doesn’t take all of that away.

So I hope a little distraction might help.

This will be the most mundane post to anyone reading this (sorry!). I’m going to take you to Glasgow with me. On a work trip. Nothing fancy. It’s what I did today — this Tuesday in January.

I took a train and then sat in a seminar all day and then took another train home. But I’m going to take you with me because while I was taking photos of myself sitting in a Pret A Manger and on the train, it felt like I spending the day with you. Or at least I imagined I was.

I hate not being home with you right now. And because I can’t be there, I want you to see exactly what I’m doing while you are waiting to put all this pain and the hospital visits and the nausea behind you. I want you to feel like you were with me and not having to think about when you need to take the next round of antibiotics and worrying about your temperature.

So without further ado, today I …

Woke up at 6:30 am and dragged myself out of bed — cold mornings are the worst. By 7:30 am I was out the door and heading down Princes Street to the train station (first by bus and then by legs). The sun was still an hour from cresting some distant horizon, so the sky was a dark blue with a turquoise blush around the edges:

lothian bus

How many daily commutes have a castle in them? I shouldn’t take it for granted, but I do — daily:

edinburghdawn

So we’ve past the Castle mound and now we’re almost to the train station. It’s just before the Balmoral clock tower and just after the spires of the Walter Scott monument (blurry photo poof of intense pace of walking — or partial awakeness — or just bad photog skillz):

princes street

Mmmm train station! I love trains and train stations even on a weekday morning. They have the same buzz of excitement as an airport without the intensity of airport security and, you know, being in the air. Trains are anti-faff. You’re on the platform and then you’re in the train in minutes:

waverly

Oh I almost forgot! My favorite part of train travel — snackies! There’s usually a mini M&S at most larger stations in the UK and it’s fun to get nuts or chocolates or entire picnic lunch avec some mini wiiine! I just got these guys today as it was 8 am and I had already consumed a large bowl of muesli:

m&s

So back to the train. The trip from Edinburgh to Glasgow is nice because you go from city to city but in between are these stretches of rolling hills and picturesque pastures (today they were dusted in confectioner’s snow):

snowy hills

But the train was cold so I stayed bundled (and sleepy looking):

sleepy

About 55 minutes later and we’re in Glasgow, Edinburgh’s larger, less expensive, more relaxed cousin:

glasgow moma

I got to Glasgow ahead of schedule so I thought I would stop into Pret. I wasn’t really hungry as I had already had breakie number one at home, but the porridge looked so good and piping hot:

porridge

And this is where I spent my day, the Teacher building — home to many-a-seminar:

glasgow teacher building

Seven hours after learning about the intricacies of print, I was back out on Glasgow’s shopping street (remember you stood by David Tennant’s Dr Who’s TARDIS there just 14 months ago?):

buchanan street

By the time I hopped back on the train and walked home I was cold and tired. Back in the flat looking …

tired

And then Matt came home and we ate a pile of (gluten-free, quinoa and rye) toast. As you do after Tuesday Train Travels.

I hope you felt like you were there, Cath! Every heart-pounding intense porridge moment!

I so, so wish I could speed up this process for you and make it so much less painful and exhausting. Just know that you can get through this and it will be over soon, even though it doesn’t feel like it. You see in the photo above I still wear the “lucky charm” necklace all the time –nearly daily. That will work its magic soon if nothing else will.

Love you more than all the train snackies in the world (times infinity),

Lar

 


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We are totally identical

twopeas3

Dear Readers

Cath is back in the hospital for another few days because she developed an infection post-surgery. This is rare. Our surgeon told us this happens to 1% of his patients.

I also had an infection after my endometriosis surgery.

Rare, you say?

This is what I think:

1) We’re totally ruining our doctor’s percentages. (Now he has to tell patients, “it’s less than 1% likely you’ll have to come back — unless, of course, you count this set of twins I operated on — but they’re an anomaly already so don’t count them!”)

2) We are totalllllly identical. In all things apparently. Lucky duckies!

Getting an infection is no fun. Nobody wants to spend more time in a hospital than they need to. It’s scary to have to run tests and go under anesthesia again for them to drain an abscess and then to be put on the Hulk of antibiotics.

At the moment Cath is feeling pretty miserable because the antibiotics make her nauseated all the time, but the pain meds help her to doze on and off, which is good. She’ll be on these mega-antibiotics for a couple more weeks post-hospital stay. And though she’ll feel pretty miserable, her body will be healing. It will feel like eternity to her, but by Valentine’s Day she’ll be swilling champagne and chocolate to her hearts content. I’ll make sure of it!

Well, that’s the other thing. It’s sucky to be identical because I know what she is going through and I’m absolutely no help because I’m 5,000 miles across an ocean. We’ve Face-timed and texted but it is not the same as sitting with her all night and holding her hand. When she feels so terrible and tired and scared, I wish so very badly I could be there to cool her forehead and murmur that everything will be okay and this too shall end. And that everything she feels (all the things she doesn’t want to feel but has to) is normal. And it’s all okay even when it doesn’t feel okay and feels interminable.

In the near future I won’t live quite so far away from Cath and then we can be identical together together, not just together via the great interwebs. I’ll swig bubbly with her and we can reminisce about how we used to live in separate countries. Separate continents even.

(If you’re in between bouts of nausea and can read this, Cath, love you so so so much and can’t wait until we’re on the same land mass again)

 


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An update on Cath’s Endometriosis Surgery

Babysloth
Photo by Josh Norem

Dear Readers

Cath’s surgery went really well and she’s wrapped up warm and cozy recovering at my parent’s house in Atlanta. I’m so very grateful to Dr. Sinvervo (the endo specialist and surgeon) and his team for keeping my twinie safe and hopefully curing her of the endo and putting an end to the pain she has had to endure.

Cath’s surgery was on Tuesday and she was on her way home Wednesday afternoon. She’s still feeling pretty sore and tired from both the surgery, antibiotics and drugs, but looking beeeyoootiful (I skyped her yesterday).

I’m sorry this update was so long in coming. I was away on a business trip right as Cath was going in and having a hard time juggling lots of What’s Apping and Skyping while speeding along in a train through the wilds of north west England.

Thank you all for your wonderful prayers and positive/health-ful vibes for Cath’s surgery and speedy recovery! Between you guys and getting her platelets spun (a new technique they do during surgery that quickens healing time), Cath will be on her feet in no time!

Lots and lots of Love,

Lar


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Festive Hibernation

Witchery Lar

Dear Cath

I know you must be feeling nervous for your surgery on Tuesday. It feels unreal to me because I can’t be there with you, and it feels unreal because I was right where you are now just last year. I know the anxiety you must be feeling but also the hope that this will end the endo pain.

I want you to know that you will feel so, so good once this surgery is over and your body has had time to heal. I still can’t believe I’ve been pain free for a year — for the first time in nearly 15 years. And I can’t wait for that to be you too. I feel eternally grateful for Dr. Sinervo and all the endometriosis specialist who dedicate their practices to easing pain for their patients.

In the meantime, skype me and what’s app me whenever you need to. I’ll be back to work on Monday, but I’ll be thinking about you 24/7 — not because I’m worried but because I know this is momentous.

It has been so strange not to be with you on Christmas or New Year’s for the first time in 31 years. It hasn’t really felt like Christmas at all, but you know what Matt and I have learned this past week and a half? Hibernation! We are pros at getting through the darkness (she says cockily because she knows this is the last winter in Scotland!).

So here are the magic ingredients to festive hibernation:

1) Pretend healthy diets exist only in combination with all things not healthy. For instance, green smoothies in the morning will balance out the hot chocolate and truffles later in the evening. The greens aren’t just for easing guilt (guilt doesn’t exist in hibernation mode) but really do make the chocolate taste all that much better because your body hasn’t sugar-crashed earlier in the day. Below is what I ate New Year’s Eve: a chocolate cake with pistachio cream and grillotine cherries yummehhh:

Chocolate gateau

2) Light every room in the house with fairy lights and candles. I’ve just put my Christmas decorations away but I’m keeping the fairy lights up until at least the Equinox.

3) Ensconce yourself in pillows.

4) When you do leave the house, go to places that are overly-sumptuous and have a fire roaring in every room — and pretend it’s your house. Prestonfield House and The Witchery seem to agree with #2 and #3 — oh and #1 — on this list.

Lar candlelight

5) Wear glitter or anything shiny and sparkly. There’s not much light in these northern latitudes but that doesn’t mean you can’t try to reflect every little bit there is at any given moment. Even in a darkened taxi my feetsies are glowing!

glitter-shoes

6) Drink whisky with abandon — also by candle light (Matt prefers to do this looking dapper in a waist coat — I prefer it while I’m wrapped in a blanket with a bit of soda water, looking less dapper and more disheveled).

Matt whisky

7) Share bottles of bubbly libations with friends.

8) Keep the idea of a summer in Thailand in your mind while the sun sets again at 3pm (that’s what it’s doing right this very moment, so “Thailand, Thailand, Thailand”)

And all of that has seriously gotten us through the darkest shank of the year. The one downside to festive hibernating? All your photos come out grainy because candle light and fairy lights might make you feel cosy and glowy, but your camera doesn’t agree.

Love you more than bubbly whisky imbibed by candle light!

Lar


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See Ya 2014! Hello 2015!

Hello dear readers!

First of all, thank you for spending another year visiting with us! It’s hard to believe that AsianCajuns.com has been around since 2007 and you all have been such amazing, loyal readers. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

Things were a little slower this year on the blogging front. Lar spent a good chunk of the beginning of the year recovering from her surgery and I spent the last half of the year slammed with school work and stressing over being a new homeowner. You know how people always say they need a clone to get more things done? Well, I do too, but I have one! Lar has pretty much been running this site for the past 5 months and I’m so grateful for it. I have no idea how folks blog on their own. How do you do it without a twin?

Lar and I should be picking the pace back up in 2015. I’m only taking one class this semester and Lar is fully recovered and one of the healthiest people I know (seriously, she lives off of green juice). So all in all, we’re ready for the new year!*

AsianCajuns 2014 list

One of the best parts about 2014 was having Lar stateside for about a month in January. She and Matt were in Seattle for a few weeks right before her surgery. Troy and I got to visit them and finally introduced Lar to amazing sushi! Lar also came home for a visit in August, which was the last time we were together. Gah! Feels like years ago!

AsianCajuns together 2014

Now, let’s talk about food. We featured it a lot on this here blog in 2014. AsianCajuns has evolved from a fashion blog to a little-bit-of-everything-but-a-lot-of-food blog. How’s that for an elevator pitch? I want to add a bit more fashion/design back into the blog this year, but there will always be plenty of food pics, trust me!

AsianCajuns Eats 2014

I’m not an overly optimistic person, but I am looking forward to 2015. Buying a house and working my butt off in 2014 were both rewarding, but I’m ready to have a bit more fun. That being said. . .

*I’m starting 2015 like Lar did last year – with surgery. I know I briefly mentioned it before on here, but I don’t like going into detail because I’m not a big fan of feeling feelings and writing about emotional stuff (Lar is better at it than me). Long story short, I’m basically getting the same surgery as Lar did last year for Endometriosis. My case isn’t nearly as bad as her’s, but there’s a lot of unknowns. Basically the surgeon doesn’t know how bad off I am until I’m on the operating table. The good news is I have an amazing support system of friends and family in Atlanta and I feel really lucky about it all. I’m only mentioning the surgery because it might mean I won’t be blogging the first few weeks of 2015. Although I might try to take a stab at blogging a few days after surgery when I’m high as a kite on pain meds – could be entertaining!

I hope you all have some super fun plans for the evening (BTW, eating pizza with friends on the couch and watching the Times Square ball drop on TV does count as super fun in my book). Be safe and see you next year!

xoxo, Cath


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Beating the Post-Christmas Blues With Jamberry

Dearest Lar,

I think almost everyone gets the post-Christmas blues. I’m jealous the Brits celebrate Boxing Day because it puts off the inevitable depression for a day.

However, this year I didn’t feel as bluesy and I think that’s because my expectations for Christmas weren’t as high as they normally are. That sounds terrible, but it really wasn’t bad! You and Matt didn’t come home for Christmas and we didn’t do presents this year so everything was very low key, but in a really nice, relaxing, decompressing kind of way.

Anywho, I’m rambling. What also helped stave off my post-Christmas blues was an evening hanging out with Brie and Ali. The day after Christmas (a.k.a your Boxing Day), Brie, Ali and I got together to have a girls night in and try out some Jamberry nail decals.

jamberry mug

(Recognize the ring you got me in London! It’s one of my all time favorites. And Thom got me the beautiful J. Crew bracelet)

I’ve always liked nail decals – like the ones that you just had on your nails for the holidays. And I always figured Jamberries were like all the other nail decals out there. So it took me a while to jump on the Jamberry bandwagon, but I’m so glad I did. Why? 1.) Because they’re affordable. One $15 sheet of decals will give you at least 4 manis or 2 manis and 2 pedis or 3 manis and 1 pedi, you get the idea. 2.) They last as long as other decals, but you can remove them with a good soak in olive oil – no acetone needed. 3.) Jamberries are made in the states, and 4.) It’s a company started by women. Woohoo!

jamberry tools

Brie and Ali are both Jamberry consultants so they have all the fancy Jamberry tools (above), but as long as you have a file, buffer, an orange stick, nail scissors and a heating tool of some sort (heater, hair dryer etc.) you don’t need to buy anything other than your Jamberry sheet, which looks like this:

jamberry sheet

This color is called Cherry Ice. It’s actually more raspberry than cherry and I love it. Perfect for the holiday season. You apply them by snipping them to size, heating them up, and placing them on your nails. Here are the official application guidelines and here’s a video I found that was super helpful when I was first trying them out.

jamberry application

It definitely takes a bit longer than just painting your nails – especially if you’re a newbie like me – but the results are worth it. I’ve had these on since last Friday and they still look brand new.

jamberry before and after

There are a million, bah-jillion different designs that you can check out here (that’s the link to Brie’s Jamberry site). I love all the fun patterned ones, but they’re just not me. I’m more of a solid or subtle pattern girl. The next ones I want to try are these nude beauties or these geometric ones.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve become less interested in having trendy, fashionable clothes and more interested in cultivating a wardrobe. My closet is slowly becoming more pared down with blacks and grays, which sounds drab (and probably is), but it makes me happy. Because of all that simplifying, I like having a little bit of sparkle or something of interest either on my nails (hello, Jamberries!) or fingers (delicate, gold rings are my thing at the moment – tempted to get these when I magically have more money).

Next time we’re together, whether it’s in Atlanta or Edinburgh, let’s have a Jamberry session with a cuppa – and maybe some cake. Unlike going to get a mani or doing one at home, you can actually EAT while applying Jamberries because there’s no drying required. I probably should have mentioned that first because that’s the biggest selling point for me – eat while you apply nail decals! ;) Best. Thing. Ever.

So tell me, what are you doing to beat the post-Christmas blues? I hope you’re not just spending your days off doing work.

Can’t wait to hear about your lovely New Years Eve dinner you have planned!

xoxo, Cath

PS: Brie has tons of info and fun posts about Jamberry on her Facebook page.


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Happy Homemade Christmas!

Hello Dearest Lar!!

It’s been too long! I figured that as soon as I finished my finals I would have plenty of time to clean my house, write blog posts, and just get my life organized. Ha! How silly of me. Between work, catching up with friends, and getting ready for Christmas I’ve hardly had any free time.

Last weekend I spent every waking hour making Christmas presents. Since I’ve been trying my best not to spend any money I’ve been determined to make as many presents as possible.

This year Lena and I decided to make cinnamon ornaments for everyone at the office. We roughly followed the instructions on this blog and made a few additions:

cinnamon ornament dough

We used letter stamps to personalize the ornaments:

cinnamon ornaments letter stamps

cinnamon ornaments cath and lena

The dough darkens as it bakes and it became hard to see the stamped letters on the ornaments. So we outlined the letters with a silver paint pin. Festive, no?

cinnamon ornaments

Lena found some really cute bags and tags to wrap the ornaments and my house still smells like cinnamon. Homemade office prezies FTW!

cinnamon ornaments packaged

I also made some marbled clay ring dishes. Do you remember Sculpey clay?! We used to make so many beads (and dollhouse food) with the stuff. Well, these bowls are made of Sculpey clay (plus some gold paint and Mod Podge).

clay jewelry bowl steps

clay ornaments rolling pin

I ended up making teeny tiny dishes for rings from the left over clay. I think I like them even better than the larger ones!

clay jewelry bowls

Just tell me which color combo you like best and I’ll make a large and small dish for you :)

I’m also making a gift for Troy, but since he reads this blog, I’ll tell you about it after Christmas.

You know what I realized? This is the first Christmas we won’t be celebrating together – ever! It almost doesn’t feel right, but I’m trying not to think too much about it. Next time we see each other we’re going to have to have a little mini Christmas. Deal?

I can’t wait to hear about your Christmas Eve dinner and Home Alone-watching Christmas day!

xoxo, Cath


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A Winter Sea

winter sea
Saddell House

Dear Cath

I think Saddell House will always be one of my favorite places in the woooorld. I’m not sure how many people wouldn’t enjoy a large, comfortable home by the sea — even though it’s a blustery, wintry Scottish sea. Somehow the remoteness, the shush-shush of the waves and the sound of the wind through the pines makes it all the more perfect.

And once you’ve had your daily tramp along the pebble beach and your cheeks are rosy from the buffeting wind, you can snuggle up on the down couch by the fire and enjoy your cuppa and a plate of buttery (or coconut oiled) toast. Heaven!
pancakes jam

I know it’s not Saint Antonio, but I think you would just love Saddell, Cath! It makes me feel the way we first did when we fell in love with Scotland the first time as uni students!

I didn’t take as many piccies of the house this year because I had a ton from our first year there if you need a refresher.

Spending a week Thanksgiving-ing was just perfect: delicious food all the time and roaring fires and candle-lit dinners. But the setting is what makes it all that much better. If I could wake up and see the sun rise over the water morning I wouldn’t ever complain about the Scottish rain later in the day.

I hope these piccies make you feel nice and relaxed during your last, very, very hectic week. You are almost done, master’s student!!! I’ll be crossing my fingers and toes for you whilst you do your exams and writing!

Love and sweet potato pancakes,
Lar

 thanksgiving
saddell sunrise
saddell bay
arran
 moss
winter beach

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